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Doc Sarah's Motorcycle Pages


The ultimate - Yamaha R1

Honda 90

Kawasaki GPZ500s And Stephen's GSXR600

Yamaha SR125

Yamaha YZF600R Thundercat  

Kawasaki EL250

Yamaha YZFR1  

Ducati M600

Ducati 748R  
Honda VFR400 NC30 HondaRVF400 NC35  

After the success with the Thundercat, I was less concerned about having a bike lowered, and now felt I should buy the bike I really wanted and have it lowered, rather than making do with dull bikes, old designs, customs and 400cc bikes. When the 2002 R1 came out, I was absolutely in love. What a beautiful bike. The Thundercat was comfortable, quick enough and stable. But it was also rather a heavy bike for me at 5 ft 2 inches and only 110lbs. After trying out the riding position on a whole series of new bikes, I decided the R1 was for me. Being short, some bikes have rather a long reach to the bars for somebody with short arms. This was the problem with the R6, ZX6R, Fireblade, CBR600 and others. The R1 seat is closer to the bars and the tank is small and slim, making it ideal for somebody like me. The riding position is not so radical as on the Fireblade, R6, GSXR600/1000 and ZX6R, and a combination of this and the nice tank shape mean that I don't actually have a lot of weight on my wrists all the time when riding. Since I have to do everything on this bike (from commuting to track days), comfort is a big consideration, and the R1 rather surprisingly fitted the bill.

The next thing was to get it lowered. Chris at Biketec in Tamworth, modified the lower suspension linkage again in order to lower the bike by 1.5 inches. Even with this, I can only just get my toes down, but it doesn't matter because the bike is so light and well balanced it doesn't ever feel like toppling over. He also lowered the front to suit. The result is a bike that I think looks better than the original. Standing next to the NC30, it is the same size, but inside is lurking a lot more horsepower. It combines the lightness and quick steering of the NC30 with the stability of the Thundercat. It isn't quite as light steering as the 400, but then it has a 190 section rear tyre. And it is much easier to steer than the Thundercat. However it copes better with uneven road surfaces than the NC30. It has enormous amounts of power available. However it is never intimidating and because you sit well over the front of the bike, you feel like you are in charge, rather than being pulled along by the bike. The handling is so good, I've already been going round familiar bends at speeds well in excess of those on previous bikes. And I've reached the edge of the tyre without scraping anything down - I have scraped footpegs on track days, but then I'm really travelling quite quickly, and everybody else seems to be scraping something at those speeds. Indeed, I've learned to get my knee down on this bike like no other.

The original screen is too low, and I replaced it almost immediately with a double-bubble screen. In original configuration the wind was tugging my helmet off - the replacement is much better for all speeds up to 90mph.


  • Tiny little bike, light to push around - as small as a 400
  • Very light steering and handling without being unstable - awesome track performance.
  • Huge amounts of power makes overtaking so easy, sometimes too easy to go fast!
  • Very comfortable riding position (for a sports bike) - your weight is not always on your wrists
  • Weight distribution feels right - you are sufficiently over the front of the bike to feel in control
  • Absolutely gorgeous looks
  • Beautifully balanced bike with excellent brakes and handling
  • It matches my existing red/white/black leathers :-)


  • I can only just touch the ground even after lowering - I can just tiptoe on both sides, or slide sideways to get the ball of my foot down. It still isn't a low bike.
  • Definitely not a bike for beginners.
  • Original screen is too low creating turbulence at 40 mph plus. Aftermarked double bubble screen cured this Maybe too much power - you need to be very precise with the throttle.
  • Sidestand difficult to put down if you are short - I need to use my toe rather than heel
  • Mirrors vibrate a bit at high speed (I mean high speed - over about 120mph!)
  • No bungee hooks and small tank make carrying luggage relatively difficult - I've solved this with a Bagster zip on tail pack
  • On the track the suspension needs adjusting to hold a tight line at speed

The Beast - and the R1 :-)
R1 and VFR400 compared! - it really IS as small as a 400
Not hanging about - knee scraping action at Rockingham



Copyright © 2004 Dr Sarah Walters
Last updated May 5, 2006